Free dental care at Give Kids a Smile 2016 in Pocatello

By Southeastern Idaho Public Health

Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease found in children: it is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.

The social impact of oral diseases in children is substantial because more than 51 million school hours are lost each year. Children in low-income families are absent nearly 12 times more than children from higher-income families. Because of pain and suffering from oral diseases, children may have problems eating, speaking and learning, which can negatively affect school attendance and participation.

Give Kids a Smile Day is a national event sponsored by the American Dental Association that will be held locally in Pocatello on Feb. 5 and 6 at the Idaho State University Dental Hygiene Clinic, 999 Martin Luther King Drive (Building #37). The following local groups are donating time and services to this year’s event: Southeastern Idaho Dental Society, Idaho State University Dental Hygiene Department, Idaho State University Dental Residency Program, Southeastern Idaho Public Health, the Idaho State Dental Association and many local dentists throughout Southeast Idaho.

Dental professionals will provide eligible Pocatello and Southeast Idaho children, who are preschool age through fifth grade, an opportunity to receive dental exams and treatment at no cost. All children seen will receive a thorough examination by a dentist and preventive services (tooth cleaning, fluoride varnish, sealants and oral hygiene instruction). If restorative care is needed, families will be referred to area dentists that are donating services to Give Kids a Smile. More than 20 dental offices are participating in this year’s event.

This event is targeted toward families that have limited access to dental care. WIC income guidelines establish the criteria needed for a child to receive services; however, families do not need to be on WIC to participate in the event. Proof of income (e.g., pay stub, last year’s taxes) is needed to participate.

Families that have children in need of dental services and that fit the eligibility guidelines are encouraged to make an appointment as soon as possible by calling Dana Solomon at Southeastern Idaho Public Health at 239-5256. If more information is needed, call April Guidinger at 478-6314.